Lebanon – Al-Rahi Tackles Electoral Law with Berri, Miqati in Rome


Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi discussed on Sunday with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Miqati in Rome the controversial electoral law.

Berri was quoted as saying after the meeting that he will agree on any electoral law that has the consensus of the rival March 14 and 8 alliances.

Asked if he will call for a parliamentary session soon, the speaker said that he is “waiting.”

Berri congratulated al-Rahi on the election of the new pope.

In remarks distributed later by Miqati’s office, Berri said he had submitted a hybrid electoral law that combines proportional representation and the winner-takes-all system to the electoral parliamentary subcommittee but that he withdrew his proposal when he noticed “the objection of all parties.”

“I said let’s withdraw the proposal and wait for any consensual draft law that might be proposed by any Lebanese party,” Berri added, noting that he would support any such law.

The speaker stressed that he is with “every agreement” among the various parties, reiterating that “the worst law that enjoys consensus among the Lebanese would be better than any other law.”

Berri and Miqati arrived on Sunday morning in Rome to attend the inauguration mass of Pope Francis that will take place on Tuesday — the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the universal church.

The speaker expressed hope that the Lebanese parties would reach common ground over the electoral law, stressing that the cabinet will remain.

Consecutive meetings will be held between al-Rahi, Berri and Miqati, media reports said.

According to the state-run National News Agency a second meeting will be held on Monday between the officials.

Al-Rahi, according to LBCI, revealed that Berri asked him to exert efforts to bridge the gap between the Lebanese foes over the electoral law.

President Michel Suleiman and Miqati have signed a decree that sets the elections on June 9 based on the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 polls over the lack of agreement between the bickering parliamentary blocs.

Their call have drawn the ire of the March 8 majority coalition which has totally rejected the law.

A consensus over an electoral law has yet to be reached after the Orthodox Gathering’s proposal that considers Lebanon a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system, was opposed by Suleiman, Miqati, al-Mustaqbal bloc, the centrist Progressive Socialist Party, and the independent Christian MPs of the March 14 opposition, saying it harms the social fabric and increases sectarian tension.



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